Key to Victory: How Suns Can Down Pelicans

The Phoenix Suns need to do this in order to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans.
Apr 1, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, left,
Apr 1, 2024; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, left, / Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns look to essentially put the final nail in the coffin of the New Orleans Pelicans' hopes of avoiding a play-in tournament fate this afternoon.

New Orleans will be highly motivated to steal this game, as they not only dropped the first two meetings with the Suns in embarrassing fashion - but they also are fighting for their very own playoff lives currently.

The Suns could also be seeing a Pelicans team that is sans star F Zion Williamson, who is questionable with a finger injury. However, as we've seen in recent history, the Suns cannot take this quality Pelicans squad lightly even if Williamson is unable to go today.

What are the main things the Suns can do to ensure yet another victory during this stretch?

The answers are simple: run the offense through Devin Booker and keep Jonas Valanciunas off of the offensive glass.

The Booker point may be an obvious one, but it still ultimately holds merit.

The Pelicans are one of the stingiest defenses this season from a statistical perspective - and the numerous lengthy wings the squad has backs up that assertion that it is difficult to generate quality looks on them.

Booker has seemingly cracked the code, however, and it makes sense.

The Pelicans operate a lot like the Minnesota Timberwolves - airtight perimeter defense and relentless help in the paint make it fairly difficult to generate the two most efficient looks in basketball.

Booker is one of the best in basketball at turning a little bit of space into a bucket - and also at finding small pockets of space at the perfect time to get off quality looks.

Booker having another strong showing is certainly a major key in the Suns' pursuit of victory this afternoon.

The other key: keeping Jonas Valanciunas off of the offensive glass.

While this is one of the worst offensive rebounding seasons of the Pelicans' center career, he is still well renowned for being a master at timing and countering box-outs.

The Suns have stressed the importance of limiting possessions of opposing teams over the recent stretch - and limiting New Orleans to one shot on as many possessions as possible is paramount in the effort to ultimately win the "math game."

Suns-Pelicans is set for a 3:00 PM Arizona time tip.

Kevin Hicks